With the year 2013 slowly eating up our calendar, let’s have a quick look on which Travel Guides garnered the most clicks and traffic last year.   10. Travel Guide: Bucas Grande Islands / Sohoton Cove National Park (Socorro) Ranking tenth on the list is the emerging eco-tourism paradise of Bucas Grande in Socorro, Surigao del Norte. Famous for Sohoton Cove, Blue Lagoon and the amazing Tojoman or Jellyfish Lagoon which is home to millions of no-sting, friendly and playful jellyfishes.   9. Travel Guide:…Continue Reading “The Most Read Travel Guides of 2012”

Santiago Bay

“Camote”, replied the island ancestors when asked by the Spaniards about the name of the place. The natives were harvesting sweet potatoes (camote) then and thought that the Spaniards were asking what they were digging. That was how the group of islands got its name according to local folklore. Camotes is a group of islands composed of four towns of Cebu (Poro, Tudela, Pilar and San Francisco), geographically located east of the province mainland, in between the islands of Cebu and Leyte in central Philippines,…Continue Reading “Travel Guide: Camotes Islands”

A cute nudibranch

Only few dive reports exist on the net about Camotes Islands, pictures are also rare. The only sure thing is that, there exists an underwater paradise underneath this group of islands that deserves a spot in the diving world and waiting to to be explored.

Huge tube corals underneath Tulang Island

Of course with my best dive buddy Ate Claudia, armed with a little knowledge of the place, we braved the almost unknown. For us, what matters is that there’s a dive operator in the area, although a bit expensive, and whatever is it in there will be a total surprise.

Huge seafans decorate the slopes of Camotes’ dive spots

We booked three dives via Ocean Deep Dive in Mangongodlong Rock Beach Resort, the only dive operator in Camotes today. There used to be two, the other one being the Johny’s Dive Camotes but it already stopped operating. Ocean Deep Dive charged us P1500 per dive inclusive of the BCD, regulator, tanks and weights.

We left before 9AM in the morning with Dive Master Gaspar Bacatan and sailed for almost an hour to Tulang Island for our first two dives.

A colorful clam

We first descended to Lawis on the northeast of Tulang Island, an easy dive to a wall dropping to eternity with blue sea on our right. We descended to a maximum of 33 meters for 46 minutes where we saw a beautiful wall filled with colorful corals and sponges, decorated with sea fans, crinoids and tropical marine species. We were advised to be careful when touching the wall, true enough, there were some scorpionfish in camouflaged.

At the end of the dive site is a coral area around 15 feet deep, where we had our safety stop, and while roaming around we spotted a lot of Crown of Thorns Seastars (COTS) embracing some of the corals. My heart bleed as I counted around seven big COTS and seeing some corals already dark and almost dead. I ascended with 50 bars of air left on my tank.

The population of Crown of Thorns Seastars in Camotes Sea is alarming
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White beach of Tulang Island, Camotes, Cebu

Upon reading some good reviews of Camotes Islands and knowing that there is a dive operator in the area, I promised myself to visit the place someday. But I didn’t know that this someday would be so soon, thanks to my dive buddy Ate Claudia who were so willing and immediately agreed to join me in another pursuit for roads less traveled and dive spots less dived and to my good friend Racquel Bontia who just recently went there, for the tips 🙂

White beach of Tulang Island, San Francisco, Camotes, Cebu

Camotes is a group of islands composed of four towns of Cebu (Poro, Tudela, Pilar and San Francisco), geographically located east of the province’ mainland and two hours away by boat from Danao, north of Cebu City. Cebu Pacific took me to there via their early flight to the Queen City of the South. I arrived Cebu City before eight in the morning, where I met Ate Claudia straight from Cagayan de Oro City. Per advised of Racquel, we took a taxi to Gaisano Mandaue (P75.00), and rode a multicab to Danao City (P25.00) for almost an hour.

It was half past the hour of nine, the multicab dropped us at the port of Danao, right in front of the century old church and we purchased our ticket to the 11AM RJR boat to Consuelo, Camotes (P180.00). With some ample time to spare, we decided to go to Gaisano Danao for breakfast.

RJR boat from Danao to Consuelo

The boat left fifteen minutes after 11AM. Along with some locals, foreigners mostly composed of Koreans and some Caucasians, and the hogs and chickens aboard the ferry, the boat sailed for two hours to the calm waters of Camotes Sea.

We reached the port of Consuelo past 1PM and we were welcomed by Kuya Elmer, a local guide referred by Racquel. We paid P50.00 each for the transfer from the port to Bellavista Resort where we checked-in for a fan room good for two at P850.00 per room per day. Bellavista Resort or formerly Beach View Resort is located along Santiago Bay in Barangay Santiago, San Francisco, where most tourists stay.

Lake Danao Park

By 2PM, white it was drizzling, our habal-habal or motorcycle tour with Kuya Elmer started. First stop was Lake Danao Park, a big lake ideal for family picnic. There is not much to see or do here unless you will go fishing or boating. If you go fishing, you have to pay for whatever you catch; meanwhile boating is at P500.00 per hour for a boat that can fit 20 persons. Entrance fee to Lake Danao Park is P10.00 for adults and P5.00 for kids.

Continue Reading "A Tour of Camotes Islands"